Messaging


Browsing through xkcd comics I’ve read before I came across this one.

Have a laugh and then go download OTR! Though one of my primary reasons to use some kind of encryption is that I dislike when messages go into the memory hole, but why stop at PGP when it’s even easier to install and setup OTR?

First of all you need to install the Off-the-Record Messaging plugin for Pidgin. To get started either use this direct link or download the installer from the official page via usual or signed link.

The next step requires that you have installed Pidgin. This guide asumes that you already have. When the download of OTR is completed, execute the downloaded file to install the plugin.

Installation

Like any windows installer installtion.

After installtion is complete, open Pidgin. Press Ctrl + U to open the plugin management window. Scroll down and click the Off-the-Record Messaging plugin to select it.

Ctrl+U

Then press the configure button at the bottom of the window. Off-the-Record dialogue will open.
Configurating the OTR plugin

One by one select your accounts in the drop down list and Generate a fingerprint for each of them. Check the Enable private messaging box. I recommend checking the automatically initiate box. Feel free to check other boxes as suits your needs. Close.

Done.

Som en del i min strävan att få världen att använda bättre klienter för snabbmeddelanden vill jag göra er uppmärksamma på att det finns en ny version av Pidgin att ladda ner.

Pidgin är en grafisk modulär meddelandeklient baserad på libpurple som kan ansluta till AIM, MSN, Yahoo!, XMPP, ICQ, IRC, SILC, SIP/SIMPLE, Novell GroupWise, Lotus Sametime, Bonjour, Zephyr, MySpaceIM, Gadu-Gadu och QQ samtidigt.

Senaste versionen heter 2.4.1 och i likhet med tidigare versioner kan man använda flikar för att hantera konversationer. Om man har kompisar med flera konton går det att slå samman konton och skapa en kontakt per person. Pidgin har fortfarande stöd för Off-the-Record messaging. Och mycket mycket mer.

Jag har tidigare skrivit om Pidgin och OTR på engelska två gånger och de posterna hör till mina populäraste, eller åtminstone mest lästa.  De heter Why use another IM client? och Off-the-Record instant messaging privacy.

Uppdatering. Tidigare länk till kategorin Privacy ersatt med direktlänkar. Kan även tipsa om ytterligare en post – en guide till hur man konfigurerar OTR för Pidgin.

Is there any point installing an instant messaging client in a phone? In my experience there is. At least if you’ve got some suitable input option and a data connection that does not cost a fortune to use. With that I’m meaning either the possibility to use wlan or having a flat rate data account. As for input I’m suggesting your phone/pda should support handwriting recognitition and/or have a qwerty keyboard. In worst case you could of course settle for less but the more annoying it is to use the more unlikely it is that you’ll ever do use it.

I’ve only tried clients available for a certain brand of phones. Many of the clients I’ve tried are available for multiple platforms though, so you should probably be able to find one for yours. Following is a list of the ones I’ve tried and the supported protocols according to their official homepages.

  • fring | Skype, MSN Messenger, ICQ, Google Talk, SIP, Twitter, AIM & Yahoo!
  • iSkoot | Skype
  • IM+ | AIM/iChat, MSN/Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo!, ICQ, Jabber, and Google
  • Agile Messenger | MSN, Yahoo!, ICQ, AIM and GoogleTalk
  • Slick | ICQ, Yahoo, AIM, MSN, Google Talk, Jabber

What I primarily want out of a client is that it should support multiple protocols so that I can continue any text conversation I’m currently having on my computer by simply logging in on the phone instead. From that point of view the only clients tha measure up are fring, IM+ and Slick. Out of those my favorite is Slick, mostly because it looks nice and is easy to use but yet quite competent when it comes to configuration.

When it comes to VoIP I have only tried fring and iSkoot over wlan. In my experience it’s in some sense better than using the skype client on my computer. Using the skype protocol and a wlan connection from my phone it’s close to having a regular phone call. I don’t have to sit at my computer but can move around within wlan distance. Also, I’ve got much much better headsets to my phone than to my computer.

This will be it for now. In retrospective this is more of an introdutcion, if even that, than a crash course. But heck, it’s a first post on the subject. Hopefully I did shed some light to it. In time I might return to the topic and write more thoroughly about IM clients for mobile devices.

Why multi-protocol? The trivial argument for me to use an multi-protocol client is because it allows me to use all my IM accounts at once with one program. But why do I use multiple accounts then? First of all I havn’t been able to convince the whole world (or even all my friends) to unite using only one IM protocol. There are pros and cons with every protocol. Having many at hand one can use the one best fit for the situation. E.g. In a situation where one network is down one can simply use another.

But it’s not the official client! No it is not. Where’s the harm in that? What’s wrong with being able to configure the client how you like it? In my opinion you are in general allowed to configure more things in multi-protocol clients – more settings and plugins available. There are multi-protocol clients that require less resources compared to many of the official clients. So in short I’ve got a client without ads, consuming less memory and it’s tweakable. Also, it allows for me to be online with more than one account on the same protocol.

Why Pidgin and not any of the other multi-protocol clients? Because I don’t have a Mac. I can’t use Adium. My first multi-protocol client was Trillian. I used it for years. After that it was Miranda for a long time and now I’m using Pidgin. There are a few others I’ve tried but turned down too quickly to say I’ve really used them. As with everything else there are pros and cons with every client. The pros with Pidgin appeal much to me and there are no cons that bother me. Pidgin supports grouping buddies by owner, creating contacts. Privacy is supported. It runs smooth, looks good and I find it easy to use and configure.

Trying to describe why one should try Pidgin is like explaining what a picture looks like. I recommend that you have a look for yourself! And while you are at it, consider some plugins. Note that not all of the plugins are available for all platforms. There’s a drawback with Pidgin. Some of the plugins I want are only available for Windows, some are only available for Linux. Seems one can’t have it all at once.

Speaking of which – If anyone have been able to get Gfire (Gaim plugin that connects to the Xfire network) working with Pidgin (formerly known as Gaim) please let me know how. Either I’m having a dumb moment not being able to figure out how to get it working with 2.3.1 or the plugin only runs with older versions. It’s the only IM client I’ve got running besides Pidgin at the moment.

Overview. Off-the-Record (OTR) Messaging allows you to have private conversations over instant messaging by providing Encryption, Authentication, Deniability and Perfect forward secrecy.

Availability. It is available for Adium, Pidgin, Miranda, Trillian and a few other instant messaging clients. There are implementations of OTR available for users running Windows, OS X and Unix/Linux.

Competition. Compared to the pidgin-encryption plugin OTR also provides deniability and perfect forward secrecy. OTR is an easy choice over Trillian’s SecureIM which doesn’t provide authentication. Primary reason for OTR from my point of view is that it’s available for multiple clients and can be used under any of the usual operatives.

My weapon of choice. Quite obviously I’m vouching for OTR. Having tried around with a bunch of multi protocol instant messaging clients I’ve settled down with Pidgin as my favourite. You don’t have to use the same but I would like you to use some client that supports OTR.

Links for downloading.

All three mentioned clients support quite a few protocols. OSCAR, WLM/MSNP, XMPP and IRC which should be enough for most users but the list goes on.

Havn’t you installed OTR yet? If you need more convincing here’s some reading for you: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Update. Video capture of a lecture on useful security and privacy technologies. and OTR in particular.